"Yeah, I'm really hungry too, but I need to take a shower first and wash all of this blood off."

Occasionally, in severe cases, a firefighter or two will have to ride along in an ambulance in order to provide extra hands. Once they're done at the hospital, they can't catch a ride home with the ambo (which may have to be redirected en route), so accounts exist that allow them to take cabs back to their stations of origin. Cabbies often love these trips, as they usually involve going from Emanuel (with its preeminent burn and trauma centers) to relatively far-flung locales.

These two guys came in from deep Gresham, with some guy who screwed up a trick on his motorcycle so badly that his helmet cracked from the impact. The prognosis in such cases isn't even remotely good, but all I can think about is the 50 bucks I'll make from the trip, which makes the outlook for my night quite rosy.

It's a beautiful summer evening, and the weekend traffic on the Banfield is light. Yet as I listen to the two firefighters routinely discuss dinner plans, viscera, and the qualities of particular ambulance drivers, I find my mood growing more somber. It stinks that somebody's life has probably ended, and yet for my fares that means a shower before dinner and for me it makes for a nice start to the workday.

I pay extra-close attention to my driving for the rest of the trip.